I admit I have an email problem

The article  “Is there Life After Email?  Yes, and it’s Amazing.”   states that most business email is sent to either “cover your ass” or to “show off”.  I’m guilty of striving for excellence in both areas.

In the CYA statement, the author says that “Email is broadcast to entire divisions simply to ensure no one can say they didn’t hear about a decision.”  Yes, if someone complains they didn’t know about something, I am  guilty of re-sending them the sentmail from days or weeks ago.  It’s hard not to get a little satisfaction by passively rubbing their nose in the old email they were copied on.  For good measure, I’ve even highlighted portions that they should have read way back when.  This is one of the reasons I hardly expunge my sentmail folder.  Pretty silly and a little evil, eh?

The author also states that “for people who don’t actually make things for their job, email is the only visible, tangible thing they make all day. ”  Guilty as well, though I haven’t been one to measure how many email I send in a day.  Rather, I measure the size of my inbox.  It started at 5 on Monday, rose to about 30 yesterday, and is now back to 7 (hence me taking a time-out from email for this quick blog post).  If I have to stay home with a sick kid (which happens quite a bit with 4 boys), I’m able to “catch up” on email. Often this means my co-workers are on the receiving end of a full-on email bombardment that compares to the Normandy invasion.  It’s probably not fair to them, but it’s the work that I’m able to do remotely in that moment.   The problem is, those emails get responses, so the volley continues back and forth until one of us calls an email truce or silently surrenders.

Regardless of what my colleagues or I think about email, it is still a necessary technology in our line of information work.  We’ve used blogs, chat, wikis, twitter, and other technology to communicate within our organization and with those we serve, but none of those is ever adopted as universally as email, nor have they taken any traffic from the well-entrenched technology.  However, one colleague has me thinking again about using a WordPress P2 blog for non-essential/non-time-critical communication such as project updates, meeting minutes, or just personal “what I’m working on” or “I need help” conversations.  Has your organization used a P2 blog, and how did it work?  Perhaps we will investigate and/or give it a try.

 

 

Are blog comments necessary or just a pain?

Click to see my blog spam

Web Worker Daily has a post where they ask “Are Blog Comments Worth It?” I often ask the same question, particularly with the comments I get on my Business Blog.  The Business Blog is primarily aimed at the faculty and students that I work with, although I do believe most of the hits to the blog come through search engine traffic.  While the blog has a modest 150+ subscribers (again, not likely my intended audience), I don’t get many comments from those readers.  Instead, I typically get comments like the ones that appear in the image in this post.  These comments get through the spam filter because  they are submitted by a human.  As you can see from the image, most commenters don’t have anything relevant to say but are simply looking for a link back to their own blogs.  The page ranking for the Business Blog is pretty high, so others are simply trying to cash in on the high Google indexing.  Since I moderate all comments on the Business Blog, these comments tend to sit until I get a chance to delete them all without approval.  I suppose if the Business Blog received more comments that were actually relevant, this would be more of a pain to deal with. I do have a commenting policy, but have only recently linked it on the comment submission form. We’ll see if that fixes things a bit.  I have also closed comments on the Business Blog for posts older than 60 days, and that seems to have reduced the quantity of these irrelevant replies.

Here at Library Voice, comments remain open and un-moderated.  The Akismet spam filter for WordPress does a decent job at getting the really nasty stuff, and the comments with links get held for moderation automatically.  This blog doesn’t get nearly the comments as other library/tech blogs (though comments are welcome! ;-)  ), so I don’t have to worry so much about spam and trolls.  I will say, too, that most of my traffic to this blog is not from the intended  library/tech audience.  The WordPress stats offer a ton of information that tells about how people found your blog, and from those stats I can tell that most visitors find the blog through Google searches.  I have a healthy number of subscribers according to Feedburner, but those numbers don’t come close to matching the search engine hits.

Since the posts on the Business Blog tend to cover things like money, finance, company and industry analysis, etc, it gets a lot more people who are trying to link back to their own site.  I guess spammers figure there’s not much money in linking off Library Voice, a blog of some dude who posts about libraries, video games, open source software, teaching, learning, and bike rides.  I’ve never thought about turning the comments to the Business Blog off, but this has got me to thinking.  I know some very well known bloggers don’t have comments enabled (Seth Godin, for example), but isn’t the purpose of a blog to share information with the potential of promoting conversation?  Are not libraries in existence to share information, promote conversation, and foster learning?  What messages would a library blog that did not allow comments send?  If you’re not getting comments from your intended audience, is it okay to turn comments off, or should you re-evaluate who your audience is or should be?  If you’ve got an answer, I’d love to hear it.  Maybe post a comment.  They’re allowed here.  😉

Business Blog reviewed by library school student

I love it when library school students stop by and chat. They usually reach me via the chat widget on the Business  Blog or via the chat widget on the Biz Wiki. The students usually have a few questions about using Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, or screencasts. Occasionally students will blog an analysis for some of the tools I’ve used, and it often gives me some good feedback on what I’m trying to do with the Business Blog and with the Biz Wiki. Library school affords you the opportunity to take a more scientific (and perhaps new) look at how things are done, so I appreciate the outsider looking in perspective.

In a recent post, Claudia analyzed the Business Blog and offered quite a few good comments. I thought I would take a few minutes to address a few of her comments at this time.  For my comments on Claudia’s awesome analysis, please see the post on my Business Blog.

So where did all the bike stuff go?

Click to go to my cycling blog

Click to go to my cycling blog

In a previous post, I mentioned that I would likely start posting more about my cycling endeavors.  However, with some more reflection, and with some advice from other librarians, friends, cyclists, and bloggers, I’ve decided that I would go the two-blog route.   There are a number of cycling-specific blogs that I have admired and read for quite a while, and having a cycling-specific blog seemed like the best way for me to keep track of my adventures in riding my bikes.   Librarians likely don’t want to read about every single cycling workout on the indoor trainer, or the latest technology behind spandex shorts.  Likewise, cyclists probably don’t want to read about using a wiki as a subject guide, twitter for library outreach, information literacy, or my experiences in the classroom giving bibliographic (gasp!) instruction. As such, Library Voice,  will continue to be a blog devoted to my observations about libraries and technology, with the occasional talk about video games thrown in for good measure.   My other blog will focus specifically on my goal to ride the Tour de France  ;)  .  I realize that this is my blog, and I can write about whatever I want, but I’d like to maintain some consistency in the post topics.  Having two blogs should make it easier to rationalize what kind of content goes where.  Likewise, having two blogs means yet again that my content is all over the place, but I guess that’s the way things go.

I’ve received several positive comments from librarians and readers of this blog who say they appreciate the posts about cycling, as they give them some insight into my non-professional interests.   In order to link the Librarian Chad with Bike Rider Chad, I may occasionally post a digest of blog posts in Library Voice, which link back to my cycling blog.

If you’re interested in biking, I encourage you to subscribe to my cycling blog, which is currently located at redneckinspandex.wordpress.com.  I may eventually move the blog to my own web host, but for now you can find it on the wordpress.com domain.

Thanks for reading and happy riding!

One blog to rule them all?

If  you’re one of the 3 readers of this blog, you may have noticed that the content of this blog has shifted quite a bit over the past year.   When I wrote the “About” section of Library Voice three years ago, I said the following:

My primary purpose for this blog is to keep current with issues and changes in the library environment. As a Reference & Instruction Librarian, web manager, and Business & Economics Bibliographer, my interests (and job duties) tend to be all over the map. As such, the writings of this blog may cover a lot of different areas as well. Technology, reference and instruction, library budgets, even my own guitar playing (although not very good) may be discussed in this blog.

Over the years I’ve mostly written about libraries and technology, as evidenced by the categories of posts on my blog.  However, like many folks, I’ve started losing interest in simply limiting my blogging to library issues.  There’s quite a few library blogs out there now, so it seems that many of the topics are being covered pretty adequately.  In looking at my blog statistics, it’s interesting to see that the most popular posts are  generally not library-related.  For example, there are posts that deal with resetting a Flip Mino, gaming, using the Plam Treo Browser effectively, and even Guitar Hero on South Park.

With the coming of spring, I’m getting really geared up for riding my bike.  I’m trying to be better about logging my rides, and taking pictures or videos of the rides.  One of the things I have contemplated the idea of just using this blog for library-related  posts, and starting another blog for cycling-specific topics, and perhaps another for video blogging.  The problem with three blogs is trying to figure out what content to post where.  For example, if I take a video on a bike ride, would it go on the cycling blog or the video blog, or both?  I’ve been trying the dual blog approach with a blog set up to write about cycling, but I’ve been ignoring it quite a bit.  I’ve also found that I haven’t been giving this blog as much attention as I’d like to either.   I know some librarians have one blog for library things, and another for other topics (knitting comes to mind for some reason).  I don’t have enough time/content/ideas to keep two or more blogs running all the time, so, if I went the multiple-blog route, I probably would wind up having a bunch of dead blogs.  However, with so excellent niche blogs out there, it is tempting to start a new blog for every single topic you’re interested in.

Several months ago I changed the tagline of this blog to say “Libraries, Tech, Games, and Bikes” to reflect the many topics that interest me, and started down the path moving this blog from  a professional librarian blog to a more personal/professional blog that covers the topics in the tagline.  I’ve probably shyed away from writing too much about bikes and games, mostly because the name of the blog is “Library Voice.”  I’m going to be posting more content here that may not necessarily relate to Library things, but since I’ve got the domain name for another 2 years at least, I’m not likely to change the name anytime soon.  I also have no idea what I’d change the name to, as ChadBoeninger.com sounds both boring and a little vain.

I suppose this is yet another example of how our professional and personal lives are merging. I’ve found that trying to keep the personal and professional separtate is too much work. In an effort to reduce that work while blogging more, Library Voice will now cover more of my personal interests as well as professional topics.  If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, I hope you’ll stick around during this transition.  Thanks for reading.